Posts Tagged With: movies

Blue Valentine

So this post is very late on the band wagon but I finally got around to watching this movie. I wasn’t feeling the story-line too much but honestly, I watched it so I could examine it’s “controversial” scene and understand why exactly the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wanted to stick it with a NC-17 rating. By the way, this scene is a single scene depicting a woman receiving oral sex. And watch it I did…. and I have to say I’m flabbergasted. There was absolutely nothing “extreme” about it. You don’t see anything of anything. All you really see is a couple enjoying thoroughly enjoying themselves while fully clothed. Now what is so wrong with that?

It’s stuff like this that’s really hypocritical. There’s movies upon movies of men receiving oral sex from women, and they just get an R rating and sometimes even a PG-13, but the few times it’s the other way around, oral sex on women is seen as pornographic in nature. Double standard much?

If you don’t understand why ratings are important, Ryan Gosling explains it perfectly: “A lot of people think, ‘What’s the big deal if it’s NC-17, the kids under 17 can’t see it,’ but that’s not true. What it really means is it can’t play in a major theatre chain and you can’t have ads for the film on television. It stigmatizes the movie in a big way. What we’re really saying is not that our kids can’t see this movie but nobody can see this movie unless you live in a big city and there’s an arthouse theatre.” Anyway, Harvey Weinstein’s fought against the MPAA and was able to reduce the rating to R so all was made well again. Right?

Wrong. Keep your eyes open the next time you watch a flick involving violence. It can be anything – action, horror, thriller, comedy etc and almost always, you will notice that a movie that has gratuitous violence can easily skip past high MPAA ratings but a movie depicting sex get’s slapped with a NC-17 rating. Saw 3D has a woman bisected by a buzzsaw. Blue Valentine has a woman orgasm by oral sex. Which movie do you think teens were allowed to see?

We live in a culture in which violence, and especially violence towards women, is tolerated to the point that it becomes white noise. Meanwhile, sex remains a taboo topic. What it comes down to is this: media’s representation of people enjoying sex is so skewed towards men that it’s immediately considered problematic when women are portrayed as sexual beings. A woman’s naked body gives a film an R-rating, but a woman (even clothed) enjoying sex can land a film in the no man’s land that is NC-17. How messed up is that? It’s high time our media reflects reality, and allows women to be fully-fleshed, sexual beings instead of the sexualized object the MPAA clearly prefers.

“For the last three decades many Americans have puzzled over a system that gives an R to a movie in which a women is carved up by a chainsaw and an NC-17 to one that shows a woman sexually pleasured. From such ratings one might conclude that sexual violence against women is OK for American teenagers to see, but that they must be 18 to see consensual sex. What message does this send to the kids the MPAA presumably means to protect?”

– Carrie Rickey

“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”

-Ryan Gosling on the controversy around the rating of his film ‘Blue Valentine’

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Movie Review: Magic Mike

*** SPOILERS***

As you can imagine, the entire theatre was comprised mostly of a female audience. There were a few guys scattered around, some looked miserable while waiting for the awkwardness of Magic Mike to begin and some were pretty cheery. We were seated next to two grandma’s who I’m pretty sure were in their late 70’s or early 80’s (it was hilarious. During the more raunchy scenes, they’d exclaim "Oh my!" several times).

I highly doubt anyone was there for the storyline but I had hoped there would be more depth to the plot. It ended up being a classic story of a flawed man who, by the grace of a good girl's love, turns his life around. The movie attempts to treat its main characters as individuals who grow through their experiences but on the whole, it wasn’t very convincing. So if you're looking to watch this movie for the story, don't bother.

Anyway, my curious feminist self was more interested in seeing how a film marketed as a stripper rom-com would treat gender roles and sexuality. This is my conclusion: it is hardly a revolutionary depiction of male sexuality or male sex work but it is the first film I can remember ever having seen that actually objectifies its male stars. So of course when Magic Mike came into production, almost every girl/woman I know was extremely delighted to finally see the tables turned.

“There’s no such thing as male objectification, and I think that’s what we’re exposing with this movie.”
—Joe Manganiello
on Magic Mike [source]

You can argue on the existence of male objectification, but I think the point he’s making is that it’s not the same as female objectification. As we all know, the former is far less common. If you disagree, then think back on all the movies you have ever seen and count how many times there has been a fully nude or partially nude female scene verses a fully nude or partially nude male scene. Female nudity in films is highly sexualized and completely different from male nudity which tends to be thrown in to add humor and typically has no intention to arouse. Also, while Magic Mike intended to focus on male sexuality, it ended up having more female nudity than male nudity (back to the standard again).

So what does this all mean? Are we witnessing a change in movies in regards to male and female sexuality? Maybe. Will we see an equal distribution of both for future movies? Somehow I doubt it. I think movies will continue to be tilted towards dude-perspectives and mentalities, there will still be more female nudity with the intention to arouse, a mostly-female cast will still be considered a movie only for chicks (remember how much hate "Bridesmaids" got?) and cliches like the ugly dude scoring the hot chick will continue to exist. I think we have a long way to go until we reach an equilibrium.

My Rating For Magic Mike – 3/5

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Night Terror

I have an unhealthy obsession for watching horror movies. I’m perfectly fine while watching it – I’m usually the person chortling and stuffing my face with popcorn, laughing off the scary scenes. The problem surfaces after I watch a particularly good scary movie because for some bizzare reason, I then remember Every Scary Movie Ever. Once the remains of that scary movie settles in my mind, I have a very hard time falling asleep.

And it is for this reason that I have my trusty touch lamp.

I have a confession to make. My touch lamp is connected for no other purpose (besides reading in bed) than to serve as an instant illuminator for when my vivid imagination throws a cannon ball of terror my way. No more reaching around in the darkness to flick on the switch! No more twisting on the knob of a regular lamp! With my touch lamp, it’s just one tap and voilà!

But my touch lamp turned on me last night. Literally.

Since I hadn’t watched any scary movie of late, my ability to form fear-inducing mental images was subdued and snoring peacefully. I had my lamp turned off and the only light in the room came from my laptop screen. After a few hours of internet activity, I decided to tuck myself in and get a good nights’ sleep.

After 10 minutes of complete darkness and silence, my touch lamp turns on.

By itself.

This was me:

Now my amygdala is pounding wildly and little orc’s with their beating drums are starting to hack into my fear-inducing mental imagery, which has now woken up in a rage from its long slumber.

If you’re thinking that I may have touched the lamp by accident, I can assure you I did not. The lamp is raised on my dresser and I was sleeping in the middle of my double bed, with my arms under the covers. I looked around to see if something may have tapped it accidentally, and there was nothing in sight.

My conclusion? It was a bug.

That had to be it. A flying bug decided to land on it and somehow turned it on with its weight.

With that being said, there are times when I need to rap hard on the lamp several times before it turns on, but in my feeble state of mind, this rationalization was the only way I could convince myself to fall back asleep.

Suffice it to say I slept with my lamp turned on at the maximum level and every now and then I’d throw it a suspicious look while I tossed and turned all night and dreamt of giant bugs that resembled the kind in King Kong.

I’m not looking forward to sleeping tonight. And now I also have a potential bug in my room to keep my imagination company. Yay.

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Two Cents

You know what gets people worked up on the internet? Not children going to bed hungry. Not murderers and rapists who never see the inside of a jail cell. Not people who abuse animals. No, it’s Sex and the City 2 that makes people lose their flippin’ minds.

I watched it the other day and to say the least, I was very disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of the series and SATC 1 but SATC 2 was just over the top. Not only was the movie exageratted to the point of madness, it was blatantly disrespectful to Arabic and Muslim cultures and tradition. Anyway, before going for the movie, I heard/read some pretty nasty reviews about how it’s THE WORST THING EVER and OH MY GOD MY EYES ARE BLEEDING and some of those comments were confirmed in my watching of the movie. But then today… I found a diamond in the rough that really got me thinking.

Jackie Ashley is a reviewer for London’s Guardian newspaper and she’s taken an even-handed enough view of “Sex and the City 2” to acknowledge “we all need a bit of escapism sometimes.”
Yes, escapism. You know, like all those men who are all too happy to spend $10 on the latest “Die Hard With Aliens And Guns And Robots And Megan Fox 3.”

One major complaint I heard from guys was the droves in which girls went to watch SATC 2 but hey, movies like “Transformers,” “Hancock” or “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” are targeted at and marketed to high school-aged boys and they  too turn out in droves on opening weekend. Summer after summer brings us blockbuster hits focused on stereotypically male fantasies full of blood, guts, boobs, bombs exploding, guns shooting, giant alien feet demolishing cars, lasers incinerating entire cities, the girl getting rescued, etc.

Of course, I’m stereotyping here. Obviously, there were girls who liked Transformers too. But the point is, generally, as far as Hollywood is concerned, the two genders have two different escapist fantasies. Do we hear a peep about how awful the films targeted towards men are? Not a chance.

Ashley sums it up succinctly:
“My contention is that there is nothing more intrinsically objectionable in women fantasising about big shopping and the ups and downs of urban sexuality than men fantasising about war, gangs or fast cars. … What really irritates me is the effortless assumption of male superiority that suggests male fantasy lives are more serious and real than female ones.  … It’s all trashy and silly. There is nothing inherently noble or serious-minded about men screaming for one patch of the earth’s surface against another patch, as they follow 11 people in shirts and shorts booting a ball. Watching Tarantino films about Americans scalping Nazis, or gladiators capering about in a mock-up of ancient Rome isn’t “higher” than watching women engage in competitive shopping ‘n’ bitching. Indeed, it’s further away from everyday realities, not closer to them. … In short, the critics of ‘Sex and the City’ need to lighten up and remember that everyone has a different fantasy world.”

And thus, I take it back and I couldn’t agree more. My fantasy world would be one where we pause at all the bloody, violent movies marketed towards teenage boys and men instead of having one big, collective conniption fit over just one film marketed towards women about shopping and sexing.

And in tribute to SATC, I give you Samantha!

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